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Clearing Up Confusion: The Difference Between Overbites and Underbites in Kids

by Youth Dental

Clearing Up Confusion: The Difference Between Overbites and Underbites in Kids

As a parent, it is essential to understand the dental issues your child might experience. Misaligned teeth, often called malocclusion, can lead to many problems for those affected. Two of the most common malocclusions are overbites and underbites. 

An overbite occurs when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth, while an underbite is the opposite – the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth. 

This blog will discuss the differences between overbites and underbites and the treatments available for both.

Overbite: Definition and Causes

An overbite, or a deep bite, occurs when the upper teeth come down and overlap the lower teeth. It’s a common condition that affects many kids, as the human skull generally allows the top teeth to extend past the lower teeth. Mild cases of an overbite are typically considered normal, while more severe overbites can lead to problems if left untreated.

One of the most common causes of an overbite is genetics. If a child’s parents have an overbite, there’s a higher chance that the child will also develop one. Other contributing factors include thumb-sucking, pacifier use, prolonged bottle feeding, and poor dental hygiene.

A severe overbite in children can cause several problems if it is not corrected, some of which include:

  • Difficulty speaking and chewing
  • Pain in the jaw or teeth
  • Tooth decay
  • Inability to close lips together properly
  • Aesthetic issues with facial structure and appearance

Treatments for Overbite

There is a wide range of treatment options. The severity of an overbite in kids will determine the appropriate treatment plan. Here are some common treatments:

  1. Orthodontic headgear: This type of treatment uses a headgear appliance to correct an overbite. The appliance attaches to the back teeth and pulls them back into place. Headgear is worn for a few hours daily, usually at night.
  2. Braces: Braces are the most common treatment for overbites. They work by gradually moving the teeth into proper alignment and can help correct other dental issues, such as crowded or crooked teeth. Traditional braces consist of metal brackets and wires, but there are also more discreet options, such as Invisalign.
  3. Palatal expander: This treatment is used for children and involves a device inserted into the mouth that is slowly expanded over time to widen the palate. They are commonly used in younger children whose jaws are still developing.
  4. Tooth extraction: In severe cases, the only way to correct an overbite may be to remove one or more teeth, allowing permanent teeth to grow correctly. Baby teeth may be removed as well.
  5. Surgery: In cases where orthodontic treatments cannot achieve the desired results, surgery may be recommended. Surgery can be used to reposition or reshape parts of the jaw and may include lip or palate surgery and other procedures designed to correct an extreme overbite in a child’s mouth.

Consult your pediatric dentist to determine the best treatment plan for your child’s needs.

Underbite: Definition and Causes

Underbites are less common than overbites but can still cause children dental and oral health problems. Also referred to as prognathism or Class III malocclusion, the lower teeth protrude over the top teeth.

The exact cause of an underbite is not always clear, but some possible factors include genetics, childhood habits (such as thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting), and jaw growth abnormalities. An underbite can sometimes be caused by an injury or a medical condition such as a cleft palate.

If a severe underbite in children is not fixed, it can cause a range of issues, including:

  • Difficulty with eating
  • Speech problems
  • Chronic jaw or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Headaches and earaches
  • Tooth decay
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Sleep apnea and snoring
  • Low self-esteem

Treatments for Underbite

The treatment for an underbite can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, simple treatment may be effective, while more severe cases may require more complex treatment options, including surgery.

Here are some methods that are used to correct an underbite:

  1. Reverse pull headgear: This type of headgear is attached to the molars at the top of the mouth and pulls them forward, which can help to realign the teeth and jaws.
  2. Braces: Braces are often used to correct an underbite. This treatment can be combined with other methods, such as headgear or surgery.
  3. Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct an underbite. It typically involves moving the lower jaw forward or the upper jaw back to realign the teeth and jaws.
  4. Cosmetic reshaping: Sometimes, the teeth can be filed down or bonded to help correct an underbite. Reshaping is typically done in conjunction with other treatments.

It’s important to consult with your dentist to determine the best treatment plan for your child’s underbite. Early intervention can prevent long-term dental and oral health problems.

Braces In Denver

Malocclusion, often referred to as a bad bite, is a common condition in children and adults that can be corrected with various treatments, including braces. If you’re searching for braces in Denver, Invisalign in Denver, Colorado, or Invisalign in Thornton, let Youth Dental and Vision help your child achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.

Don’t let a bad bite hold you back from smiling confidently. Visit us in Denver at Denver Youth Dental and Vision and Hampden Youth Dental and Orthodontics. We also serve the Thornton and Aurora population. Visit us at Aurora Youth Dental and Vision and Thornton Youth Dentistry. Call (303) 953-8801 to book an appointment or complete the online booking form. If you are searching for braces near me, trust the experts at Youth Dental and Vision. 

We look forward to helping you attain the smile of your dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Are Overbites and Underbites Diagnosed?

Dentists and orthodontists typically diagnose overbites and underbites during a routine dental examination. X-rays may be required to determine the severity of the condition.

Can Overbites and Underbites Be Fixed Without Surgery?

In some cases, overbites and underbites can be corrected without surgery using orthodontic treatments such as braces or headgear. However, more severe cases may require surgery.

How Long Does It Take To Correct an Overbite or Underbite With Braces?

The length of time needed to correct an overbite or underbite with braces depends on the severity of the condition. On average, treatment can take anywhere from 12-36 months.

Can Overbites and Underbites Cause Any Health Problems?

Yes, both overbites and underbites can cause health problems. Overbites can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and even breathing difficulties, while underbites can cause problems with speaking, chewing, and eating. In severe cases, both conditions can lead to TMJ disorders, which can cause chronic pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles.

Can Overbites and Underbites Be Prevented?

It may not be possible to prevent overbites and underbites entirely, as various factors, including genetics and habits like thumb-sucking, can cause them. However, there are steps that parents can take to reduce the risk of their child developing these conditions. Parents should encourage healthy oral habits, such as regular brushing and flossing, and address teeth or jaw alignment issues early on through regular dental check-ups.

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